Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Week Nine Recipe: Easy Pull Apart Garlic Bread

Want to shake up your italian dinner just a little?  This pull apart garlic bread recipe is super easy and super tasty.  The original inspiration came from....well...it came from a pin that no longer takes you to the recipe :(

My friend Kim made these for the super bowl and they were beyond delicious!  The basic recipe uses refrigerator biscuits that you cut in half and roll out.  Place a small meatball and piece of mozzarella in the center and wrap the biscuit around it.  Place in a round cake pan and bake.  I'll try and get her to write the complete recipe so I can post it.  Here's my version unstuffed.

I can of refrigerator biscuits
1 T melted butter
1/3 cup of Schilling Garlic Bread Sprinkle
Pinch of Garlic Powder
2T grated parmesan cheese

1. Cut each biscuit into quarters and roll into a ball.

2. Toss the balls in the melted butter.

3. Mix together the Sprinkle, garlic powder and cheese in a bowl.  Toss the buttered balls a few at a time into the bowl and coat with the cheese mixture.

4. Place into a greased round cake pan and bake at 350 for 15 - 20 minutes (until golden brown).


Week Nine Craft: Simple Tote

I am obsessed with tote bags.  Big, small, simple, complicated I love them all.  Like any true sewer I have boxes of stash fabrics.  You know, the piles of remnants you can't bear to part with and the yards of "It's marked down so low I better buy it;  I'm sure I'll use it someday" fabrics.  Why not clear up some of that stash?

Inspiration came from this bag from Better Homes and Garden.

The fabrics are great and I like how the contrast looks like a band at the top.  Here's the bag I came up with:
Here's what you need:
Fabric approximately 17"x28" plus 9"x9" piece for pocket (use canvas, duck cloth, or home dec fabric)
Contrasting fabric 4"wide and about 34" long
4"x34" of fusible interfacing
1 1/2 yards of 1" wide strapping (or handles sewn from fabric)
16" of 5/8' cotton cording 

The finished bag is approximately 12"x12", but this pattern can be adjusted to any size.  

1. Start by finishing the edges of your pocket.  The easiest way to do this is to sew a line of stitching all the way around the pocket 1/2" from the edge.  Fold along the stitching line, fold the raw edge in and press.
2. Pin and sew the pocket to the 17"x28" piece of fabric about 5" from the top.  Sew 1/4" in from the edge of the pocket and edge stitch as well.  Not only does this make your bag look more "finished" it also strengthens the pocket.

3. add rivets to the four corners of the pocket.  
4. Sew the sides of the bag together.  This bag isn't lined so this is a good place to use french seaming. Don't know what a french seam is?  All you do is start by pinning your fabric "wrong" sides together and stitch using a 1/4" seam.  Now turn your fabric "right" sides together and stitch using a 3/8" seam.  This will capture the raw edge and give you a nice clean seam. 
Iron the side seams to one side and top stitch 1/4" from the seam.  Just like with the pocket this will make your bag stronger and look more professional.

5. Now it's time to make an envelope bottom for your bag.  This is a super easy way to get a flat bottom on your bag.  Usually the "envelope" point is on the interior of the bag, but I thought it would be more fun to have it on the outside.  With your bag right side out locate the bottom points of your sides and iron the fabric so you get a nice crisp triangle.
Measure up 2"from the tip on the side of your bag and place the tip on that mark.   Stitch in place and then add a rivet over the point.  

6.  Place your handles about 3 1/2" from the side seams and pin them in place.  It's important that these handles are as sturdy as possible, so place the ends 1 1/2" past the edge of the top.  Please note that I have the handles pinned to the "wrong" side of the bag fabric.  This will capture the ends between the band and the bag so that they will be hidden.  

7. Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of your contrast fabric.  Measure your bag to determine the circumference.   Sew the edges of your contrast together forming a band the same circumference.  With the right side of the band facing the wrong side of the bag pin around the top as shown in the photo.  Press up 1/2" of the bottom edge of the band.  Using a 1/2" seam stitch the contrast band to the bag.

8.  On the bag only (make sure the contrast band is free) reinforce stitch your handles in place.  

9. Pin the "hem" of the band to the bag and edge stitch in place.  Do this both at the top and bottom of the band.  

10. One more step and you are done!  Padding the handles takes your simple tote beyond an ordinary tote and makes the bag more comfortable to use.  Find the midway point on your handles and place the midpoint of 8" of cording on that.  Using a needle and thread hand stitch the edges of the strap together - trapping the cord.  You only need to stitch about 1/4" beyond the ends of the cord to completely hide it.

Now all that's left is to stand back and admire your work.  How much more joyful will your trips to the grocery store and farmer's market be when you pull out your very own made-by-you bag to put your items in?  Be prepared to be hated by the other shoppers, green with envy that you are not only ultra fashionable, but super creative and a friend of the planet (for not using plastic).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Week Eight Recipe: Gumdrops

This week's recipe could technically be a craft as well as a recipe; it's homemade gum drops.  Well, maybe more like homemade jello jigglers.  The inspiration came from Mom on time out.

They looked so yummy I had to give them a try.  The recipe couldn't be any easier.
Here's what you need:
  • 1 1/2 cups no sugar added applesauce 
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 3 oz packages of Jell-O
  • 2 small envelopes unflavored gelatin 
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon or lime juice 
Here's what you do:

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and refrigerate the pan while you prepare the mixture.  

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and let it set for one minute.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat and once there boil for one minute.  Make sure you keep stirring during the heating process.  

Pour the mixture into the refrigerated pan and then place back into the fridge until set (three hours to overnight).

Turn the set mixture out onto a cutting board sprinkled with sugar and cut into your desired shape.  I used mini Noah's ark cookie cutters.  You could also just use a knife and cut squares.  

Let them dry overnight and then roll in sugar to coat.  

This was one of those things I just had to try and admittedly they were fun to make.  My friend's son gave them a thumbs up! 

Week Eight Craft: Bunny Table Runner

Lately, I have been obsessing over quilting.  It's something I've just started experimenting with, and I have to say I love it.  So, I thought it might be fun to practice my new found obsession on something a little less cumbersome than a huge quilt - why not an easter table runner?

My original inspiration came from a site called Little Lady Patchwork.  It's a sweet little tutorial for a heart table runner.  I know, I know bunnies and hearts aren't the same...and I used stenciling instead of appliqué.  It was just an inspiration after all.  

Here's what you need:
1 yard of white muslin (90" wide)
1 yard of warm and white batting (90" wide)
1/2 yard of coordinating fabric for binding
Square buttons
Freezer paper
Fabric paint

The fabric measurements were based on a table runner that measures 14"x75".  Cut one piece of fabric that size.  Cut a second piece of fabric and the batting slightly larger (about 1-2" all the way around).  I searched the web for a relatively simple bunny to convert to a stencil, but didn't have much luck finding one, so I drew my own.  Feel free to use it.

Sorry, I couldn't figure out how to load the PDF :-(  You should be able to save and resize it.  Trace your pattern onto the dull side of freezer paper, carefully cut out the design and iron it to your muslin (don't you LOVE freezer paper stenciling?).  I wanted to minimize the chance for any bleed under the paper so I applied my paint with a stencil brush.  Notice that the color chosen for the bunny is chocolate?  Oh, the irony.  Let the paint dry.

While your paint is drying tape your second piece of fabric to a flat surface.  

This makes quilting sooooo much easier!  It really helps with puckering on the back of the quilt.  Layer your batting and then the stenciled fabric and pin, pin, pin in place. Usually quilts are many pieces of fabric sewn together, but this one is a solid piece of fabric.  I wanted the stitching to be the pattern rather than the fabric.  Using fabric chalk I marked a simple lattice design on the fabric and stitched it.  Once stitched trim the excess fabric.

Next, add your binding.  I'm not going to do a step by step for quilt binding; there are many wonderful tutorials on youtube that are very informative and easy to follow.  Here's the runner with the binding: 

 I used a white cotton that had pastel polkadots for just a wee bit of contrast.  Technically, the table runner is complete, but it just didn't feel complete.  There was just a little something missing.  Combing through my local fabric store I came across some little square buttons with the same colors from my polkadot binding - almost like it was meant to be.  I sewed the buttons in the intersections of my quilt lattice and NOW my creation is complete.  The buttons are nice and thin so you don't need to worry about placing dishes on the table runner.  Not only does this look great on the dining room table, it looks nice at the foot of the bed as a bed scarf...after all...it is a quilt.  

Here's a picture of the button/bunny detail.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Week Seven Recipe: Creamy Baked Chicken Taquitos

After last week's killer Twix brownie backslide I came back to the lite (Ha!) for this week's recipe.  Sweet Pea's Kitchen serves up creamy baked chicken taquitos.  NOTE: the ingredient list calls for 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley.  Use cilantro, not parsley.  The directions have it correct, so I'm guessing it's just an oversight in the ingredient list.

Make sure you check out her website; she has loads of recipes that are easy to follow.  Here's how mine came out:

These are delicious!  They have so much flavor; you would never miss them being fried like taquitos usually are.  I used light cream cheese to save even a few more calories.  Using the 3 tablespoons of filling per tortilla the recipe calls for I ended up with 12 taquitos.  From Sweet Pea's photo I'm guessing she ended up with 8; either that or her taquitos are on steroids!  

This recipe definitely gets added to the rotation.

Week Seven Craft: Foil Art

The foil/shoe polish art I'm seeing on Pinterest is great on so many levels.  It costs next to nothing to create, it allows you to use your original creation and the patina that comes from the shoe polish looks great.  This is one tutorial in particular I enjoyed from the Art Club blog.  

So, I gave it a go and here's my picture: 

Part of my problem was that I used a wooden letter rather than I nice simple square.  I couldn't get the foil to wrap around the tight edges enough and I couldn't get the foil to adhere to the wood.  That part was my mistake.  But, I also couldn't get the polish to adhere to the foil; it just wiped right off.  Has anyone else run into that?

Rather than completely trashing the whole project I decided to throw some red paint over the wooden letter and I had the shoe polish out so I rubbed some over the dried paint.  It actually came out pretty cool.  The polish fills in the nooks and crannies just like it was SUPPOSED TO with the foil, but it also does something to the paint that makes the finish look like metal.  

I had a hard time getting a picture that effectively brought out the "metal" effect, but trust me, it looks cool.  

So the lesson learned is that if one of your projects doesn't turn out like the tutorial keep going and you just might end up with something that's just as nice.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Week Six Craft: Tote Bag Translated!

Raise your hand if you have this bag pinned and thought to yourself "Someday I will take the time to figure this pattern out".  Me too!  My pin a week challenge finally encouraged me to get off my butt and give it a go.

Not too bad if I do say so myself.

Here's what you need:
1 1/4 yards each of two fabrics.  The original bag looks like canvas and that is what I used. You should be able to get two bags out of this.
7/16" grommets (large eyelets)
30" material of your choice for handle (leather, rope or cording)

My bag ended up being about 18" tall by 14" wide and I used a 1/4" seam allowance.

1. Cut your lining so it is 36" by 15".  For the exterior cut two pieces that are 13" by 15" and one piece of contrast that is 10" by 15".  

NOTE: If you are using fabric with a pattern (like my sailing ships) you need to make sure you rotate one piece 180 degrees.  After all, you don't want your pattern to be upside down on one side.
2. Sew the contrasting base to the two exterior pieces as shown in the picture above.

3. Cut your "flaps".  I made each flap 2 1/2" deep and 7 3/4" wide (at the widest part of the flap).  The angles were cut at 30 degrees.  

4. Fold your exterior in half (right sides together) and sew together.  Repeat for the lining, but make sure you leave an opening of about 4" on one side for turning your piece.

5.  With the "wrong" side out fold your bottom as shown.

 Mark 2" up from the tip and draw a line straight across.   Use the line as a guide and stitch.  Repeat for the lining.

6. You should now have two bags - one your exterior and one your lining.  Place the bags right side together and stitch.  Depending on the style of handle you use this is where you will do things slightly differently.

a) If you are using a leather handle as shown in the original pattern sew around the entire top.  

b) If you are using a rope or corded handle make sure you leave two openings (each directly across from where you will place the grommets) to insert your rope/cording through.

7. Clip your corners and turn your bag right side out.  

8. Install your grommets (also known as large eyelets) per manufacturer instructions.
As  you can see from the photo they are placed in the middle of the flap (both top to bottom and side to side).

9.  Adjust the handle to the length you want (mine ended up being about 26" so I could throw it over my shoulder).  If you are using a leather handle it looks like the original pattern used rivets; install those per manufacturer instructions.  I chose a covered cording handle because I thought it would be more comfortable.  
 Here's a photo of the cording.  You can find it in the upholstery/drapery section of your favorite fabric store.  I made the cord casing out of the same fabric as my lining.  

With the bag still right side out slide your rope/cording into the opening you left. Pin in place to the exterior fabric only.

Slide the rope/cording through the grommet opposite the opening. 

Carry the rope/cording over the top of the bag and slide the end through the other grommet.  Make sure you slide it from the exterior to the interior as shown.
Insert the end of the rope/cording through the opening on the side opposite the grommet you just went through and pin to the lining fabric only.
Using the opening you left on the side seam of the lining turn the bag wrong side out.  Stitch over the openings you slipped the rope/cording through.  Stitch again to secure the rope/cording in place.  Turn the bag right side out again.

10. Edge stitch the top of the bag.  This ads a decorative touch and also helps secure the handles.

11. Slip stitch the opening in the lining and you are done!

12. Stand back and admire your work.